Sunday, December 30, 2012

Race vs. class in the USA: poverty

"Four-fifths of us who work for salaries or wages make less than $20 an hour. This is a poor country. We're a nation of the working poor, and it's something that people don't want to acknowledge." —Dale Maharidge

For decades, I would've guessed the worst poverty in the US was in Watts, Appalachia, or Mississippi. Not true. From The Poorest Part of America*:
Virtually all of the 20 poorest counties in America, in terms of wages, are on the eastern flank of the Rockies or on the western Great Plains...
The race of the people there? is largely white. The area does include several pockets of wretched Native American poverty, but in most areas the poor are as white as a prairie snowstorm.
From U.S. economy leaving record numbers in severe poverty:
Nearly two out of three people (10.3 million) in severe poverty are white, but blacks (4.3 million) and Hispanics of any race (3.7 million) make up disproportionate shares. Blacks are nearly three times as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be in deep poverty, while Hispanics are roughly twice as likely.
Regardless of race, in the US, you have very little real hope of rising to a higher economic class. (See the "Country by Country" graph at A Closer Look at Income Mobility.)

If you focus on the fact that poverty in the US is racially disproportionate, you lay the grounds for two lies:

1. The racist lie: People of color are disproportionately poor because they're lazy or incapable.

2. The anti-racist lie: Poverty is primarily a problem for people of color.

The last time I checked, the poverty percentages looked like this:
Poverty rates for Blacks: 24.7 percent
Hispanics: 21.9 percent
Non-Hispanic Whites: 8.6 percent
Asians: 9.8 percent
The hard numbers looked like this:
Asian persons in poverty: 992,856 (2.92% of the people in poverty)
Black or African American persons in poverty: 9,168,000 (25.17% of the people in poverty)
Hispanic or Latino persons in poverty: 9,368,000 (22.68% of the people in poverty)
non-Hispanic Whites persons in poverty: 16,227,000 (49.23% of the people in poverty)
The hard numbers of Americans in poverty continue to increase, but the racial percentages haven't changed in decades. Shortly before his death, Martin Luther King wrote:
In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.
Thinking of poverty as a racial problem ignores 49% of the problem. Poverty is a human problem, and the solution is the same for everyone: better work, housing, food, health care, education... Poverty does not need to be made racially proportionate. It needs to be eliminated.

* Linked to a blog because that's from an Economist article that you have to pay to view.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cartoons for Social Justice Warriors

Sailorswayze: Social Justice League

Penny Arcade: Racist? Not racist?

Dinosaur Comics: Hey, That's RACIST!

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal: Internet Arguments

SMBC: Why I Won't Join Your Movement

SMBC: The Contextualization Fairy

Old white guy can't dance (yet) - Part 2

Advice for folks thinking about an exercise dance class:

1. Focus on the music, not the moves. They'll come.

2. To learn the moves, find a place where you can see the teacher. I recommend being toward the back of the room at a slight diagonal to the teacher. If you're near the front, get close to the center or you'll be completely lost whenever you turn.

3. If you can't see the teacher, pick a couple of students in the front rows who're good. Don't watch one student the whole time because you'll learn that student's weaknesses as well as strengths. Also, you might look like dancing isn't what's on your mind.

4. Take a water bottle and drink a lot. Dehydration makes you stupid.

5. No one cares if you sweat. That's why you're there. If you sweat a lot, keep a towel by your water bottle.

6. Don't worry about your weight. Muscle is heavier than fat, so you may gain weight while you're getting slimmer and stronger.

7. Be aware of what you eat. Calorie-counting strikes me as an awful way to live, but it's useful to do for a few days to make you aware of how you're fueling your body.

8. Go easy. People hurt themselves badly by pushing their bodies too hard. Don't judge yourself by what you were able to do when you were younger or by what anyone else is able to do. Judge yourself by what your body is telling you. It's okay to drop out for a few moves or to leave early, so long as you keep coming back.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Old white guy can't dance (yet) - Part 1

I've been taking zumba and flashmob classes at the YWCA for a little over a month now. I'm awful, but I love it. Maybe I love it because I've embraced my awfulness. I dance being aware that if I'm the worst dancer in the room, I'm making everyone else look better, so my awfulness is a mitzvah, a small kindness for all the other dancers that costs me nothing 'cause I have fun.

It's taken a long time—57 years—for me to be comfortable with being awful in public. If I could tell my younger self anything, I would tell him to delight in looking bad, because that lets you do all the things you love.

And by doing them, you get better. Maybe not better than anyone else, but real competition is never with anyone else.

And while I'd hesitate to say I'm not still the worst dancer in the room, I do know a few steps now that newcomers take a while to learn.

Race vs. class in the USA: the death penalty

If you think the US is a classless society, race seems like an enormous factor in the death penalty. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, these are the racial percentages for the 1320 people legally executed in the USA since 1976:
BLACK: 35%
WHITE: 56%
The site has another interesting set of numbers, the races of the victims:
BLACK: 15%
WHITE: 77%
Someone who only considers race would conclude blacks murder more than whites, and blacks are more likely to get the death penalty than whites.

But there are other factors. At Race and the Death Penalty, John McAdams says: is clearly the case that blacks who murder whites are treated more harshly than are blacks who murder blacks. This looks like racial disparity if you assume that the circumstances are similar in the two cases. Unfortunately, it's vastly unlikely that they are. Most murders are among people who know each other. Murders done by strangers are much more likely to be regarded as heinous than are murders growing out of domestic quarrels, drug deals gone wrong, and such. It might seem reasonable to compare the punishment received by blacks who murder whites with the treatment received by whites who murder blacks. Unfortunately, while black on white crime is relatively rare, white on black crime is even rarer. There simply isn't an adequate statistical base to allow us to generalize about whites who murder blacks, which pretty much leaves us to compare the way the system treats blacks who murder blacks with the way it treats whites who murder whites. When we do this, we find some fairly solid-looking evidence that the system is unfairly tough on white murderers -- or if you prefer, unfairly lenient on black murderers. But even this finding is one we have to be skeptical about. Is the average black on black murder quite similar to the average white on white murder? Or are there systematic differences?
So what might be involved in the systematic differences? Here's a hint: New Yorkers Against the Death Penalty FAQ notes "Ninety-five percent of defendants charged with capital crimes are indigent and cannot afford their own attorney to represent them."

The racial mix of Americans who live under the poverty line is 50% white, 25% black, 22% Hispanic, and 3% Asian. So, remembering that nearly everyone who's executed is poor, let's line this up:

Percentage of people in poverty who are white: 50%
Percentage of people executed who are white: 56%

Percentage of people in poverty who are black: 25%
Percentage of people executed who are black: 35%

Percentage of people in poverty who are Hispanic: 23%
Percentage of people executed who are Hispanic: 7%

Percentage of people in poverty who are Asian or "other": 3%
Percentage of people executed who are "other": 2%

The white and black poverty-to-execution ratio may be high because those populations are more urban and there's more crime in cities, while a higher percentage of the Latino poor is rural.

Looking for more evidence that the death penalty is more about class than race, I found a surprising supporter: Attorney General John Ashcroft gave this conclusion of a government study in 2001, "There is no evidence of racial bias in the administration of the federal death penalty." In this case, I don't see a reason to disagree. Bush and his cabinet (which was more racially diverse than any previous president's) were far more interested in money than race.

When I wrote about this in 2005, someone who identified himself as Carl left this comment:
For the past 20+ years I’ve worked in the criminal justice system – the past 8 years for a criminal defense firm, and the 14 years before that as a court clerk – I’ve done more death penalty cases than I want to think about (very few attorneys or judges ever want to do even one, and once you’ve done one, you never want to do another – they’re brutal on everyone involved), and can honestly say that in my experience (in California – your state may be different), the vast majority of DP felons (and felons in general) tend to be poor, poorly educated, and not very bright in general, with very poor social and coping skills. While there are occasional exceptions, they are damned rare.

The only notable exception I worked on was a wealthy woman who went even more psycho (she was bizarre at first, and went completely around the bend when her husband dumped her in favor of Next Year’s Model), and murdered the ex and his new wife in their beds. That one showed up on TV, both in the news and in movies-of-the-week, and she managed to avoid the death penalty, where poorer killers were far more likely to get Death. (Yes – you can probably guess the name).

In my experience (and hers, and OJ’s), money plays a far greater role than ethnicity.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

why do most women support feminism's goals and reject the name?

I found Poll: Women's Movement Worthwhile via Giving Feminism a Bad Name. The latter will infuriate middle-class feminists: it's written by a white male evolutionary psychologist. While I'm sympathetic to the occasional ad feminem 'cause ranters gotta rant, facts stay facts.

Like this:
In CBS’s nationwide random sample of 1,150 U.S. adults65% of women and 58% of men identified as feminist when an equal-rights definition was provided, but only 24% of women and 14% of men considered themselves feminist in the absence of a definition (Alfano, 2009, February 11).
When 17% of women think "feminist" is an insult and 12% think it's a compliment, the feminist movement has a serious problem. And blaming conservatives for what people think of feminism seems mighty silly now that most American men and women support equality for all men and women.

The problem with "feminism" are feminists. If any American dislikes egalitarians, I haven't heard about it. I'm sure there are some—the distrust of democracy by rich Americans goes back to the Founders—but my suspicion is Americans like people who identify as egalitarian because there's no ambiguity about whether you're arguing that women should be considered equal to men or better.

I often wonder if it matters whether you define yourself with adjectives or nouns. I would be reluctant to call myself a feminist, but if I ran into a macho jerk, I would happily use "feminist" as an adjective to clarify my belief. I like simple nouns that aren't ambiguous. You don't need to add "feminist" or "anti-racist" or "pro-gay" to "egalitarian". Either you believe in equal rights for everyone, or you don't.

Frankly, I think modern-day feminists are clinging to an old and noble word that's as useful today as "abolitionist". That fight has pretty much been won, but the gap between the rich and poor of all genders and hues continues to grow. Keep your eyes on the prize: a world of opportunity for all.

PS: Compare the popularity of "feminism" with "socialism", which conservatives hate also. In Democrats, Republicans Diverge on Capitalism, Federal Gov't, Gallup found that 39% of Americans have a positive reaction to socialism.

PS 2: She Can’t Sleep No More | Jacobin

PS 3: Equity and gender feminism - Wikipedia

PS 4: Shakesville: Explainer: What are Gender Feminists and Equity Feminists? is a fine example of how gender feminists claim equity feminists aren't real feminists, just like any religious sect claiming the other branches of its religion aren't real members of their faith. See The best God joke ever - and it's mine!

Monday, December 24, 2012

"How Santa Got His Red Suit" by Walt Kelly

Insomnia Notebook: Merry Christmas from Postino and Walt Kelly

Race vs. class in the USA: the drug war

You can find people of all races in US prisons, but you'll have to look hard to find anyone who wasn't poor. From Prison Legal News: "Most prisoners report incomes of less than $8,000 a year in the year prior to coming to prison. A majority were unemployed at the time of their arrest."

The part of the criminal system that most disproportionately targets poor people of color is the drug war. John McWhorter notes, "The primary reason for this massive number of black men in jail is the War on Drugs. Therefore, if the War on Drugs were terminated, the main factor keeping race-based resentment a core element in the American social fabric would no longer exist. America would be a better place for all."

The racial mix of Americans who live under the poverty line is 50% white, 25% black, 22% Hispanic, and 3% Asian. If prison simply reflected poverty, the figures would be the same for all crimes. But Drug War Facts gives this picture for drug offenses: "Of the 250,900 state prison inmates serving time for drug offenses in 2004, 133,100 (53.05%) were black, 50,100 (19.97%) were Hispanic, and 64,800 (25.83%) were white."

This might be because white poverty tends to be rural and black poverty tends to be urban, but I can't find the statistics to test that theory. Even when you adjust for class, the drug war seems racist.

There's another way to see whether poverty or race might be the major factor in a statistic. According to the US Census Bureau's Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2005, the number of non-Hispanic blacks and whites in poverty looks like this:
White: 16,227,000
Black: 9,168,000
Since almost everyone executed in the US is poor, simply divide the number of blacks by the number of whites. In this case, you get .59, which is within tolerance for racial fairness.

But compare that with this, from Race, Prison and the Drug Laws: "Of the 250,900 state prison inmates serving time for drug offenses in 2004, 133,100 (53.05%) were black, 50,100 (19.97%) were Hispanic, and 64,800 (25.83%) were white."

Selecting just for blacks and whites:
White: 64,800
Black: 133,100
Do the math, and you get 2.05. That disparity can't be explained by anything except a drug war that targets poor black folks.

Still, you can't ignore class in the drug war. Prison Sentencing Study: Whites, Women, Non-Poor, and U.S. Citizens Are Given Lighter Sentences quotes this from a 2001 study by David Mustard called “Racial, Ethnic and Gender Disparities in Sentencing: Evidence from the US Federal Courts":
Having no high school diploma resulted in an additional sentence of 1.2 months. Income had a significant impact on the sentence length. Offenders with incomes of less than $5,000 were sentenced most harshly. This group received sentences 6.2 months longer than people who had incomes between $25,000 and $35,000.
I also found this claim, which, alas, isn't footnoted, so it may sound right and still be wrong:
Among those entering prison in 1991, about 70 percent earned less than $15,000 a year when they were arrested, and 45 percent didn’t have a full-time job. One in four prisoners is mentally ill, and 64 percent never graduated from high school.
In 2009, White House drug czar, Gill Kerlikowske called for an "end to the war on drugs" and said the drug problem in this country should be a public heath issue and not a criminal justice issue. Maybe Obama will get to it when he's done with health care.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A bonus Christmas grab bag

I keep thinking Deborah Allen's "Rocking Little Christmas" should be more famous. I love it too much, probably because it really isn't about anything other than having fun with someone you especially like.

But for sensual secular Christmas songs, no one can top Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby":

All I Want for Christmas Is... Jews -Faux Mariah Carey has a surprisingly profound insight: "They may have killed our savior; that's not the best behavior. That's okay, he rose three days later." Any Christian who ever heard, "The Jews killed Jesus," should've answered, "So what? He got better."

God bless us all, every one!
—Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

P.S. For a generally more spiritual grab bag of Christmas videos: A Christmas grab bag.

Why some people see "other": the Other-Race Effect

Here's another post for people who think everyone's naturally racist:

Several studies have been done to see whether babies have a preference for faces from their own racial group, and to learn why many people are better at recognizing faces from their own racial group. The following results are from
Note: I've made some tiny changes to make the following more readable, but what follows is my edit, not my prose. Click the asterisk by each point for the original wording and context.

* Adults typically find it easier to recognize faces from their own racial group, as opposed to faces from other racial groups. This is commonly known as the other-race effect.

* The preference for own-race faces doesn’t exist at one month of age.

* The own-race face preference develops by 3 months of age.

* Babies raised with frequent exposure to people of other races don’t develop this early bias.

* One study investigated 3-, 6-, and 9-month-old Chinese infants’ ability to discriminate faces within their own racial group and within two other racial groups (African and Caucasian). The 3-month-olds demonstrated recognition in all conditions, whereas the 6-month-olds recognized Chinese faces and displayed marginal recognition for Caucasian faces but did not recognize African faces. The 9-month-olds’ recognition was limited to Chinese faces. This pattern of development is consistent with the perceptual narrowing hypothesis that our perceptual systems are shaped by experience to be optimally sensitive to stimuli most commonly encountered in one’s unique cultural environment.

* Although the face processing system appears to undergo a period of refinement during this time of life, it does not become fixed. This is attested to by the finding that Korean adults who were adopted by French families during their childhood (aged 3–9 years) demonstrated the same discrimination deficit for Korean faces shown by the native French population (Sangrigoli, Pallier, Argenti, Ventureyra, & de Schonen, 2005). This finding is highly indicative of a face representation that remains flexible throughout both infancy and childhood. Although the face representation emerges early in life based on differential experience, it appears to retain its plasticity until at least 9 years of age.

* A plausible scenario for the emergence of the ORE is as follows: Predominant exposure to faces from a single racial group leads to greater visual attention toward those faces that in turn produces superior face recognition abilities with faces from that group and poorer recognition abilities with faces from racial groups that are not frequently viewed in the visual environment.

* Over three decades of research on the cross-race effect (CRE) suggests a rather robust phenomenon that carries practical implications for cases of mistaken eyewitness identification, particularly in situations that involve a poor opportunity to encode other-race faces and when a significant amount of time occurs between observation of the perpetrator and a test of the witness’s memory. While the CRE has not generally been observed in the accuracy of descriptions for own-race vs. other-race faces, research has found that individuals often attend to facial features that are diagnostic for own-race faces and misapply these feature sets when attempting to identify and describe other-race faces. As such, theorists have proposed that encoding and representational processes are largely responsible for the CRE, including the role of interracial contact and perceptual categorization processes.

* Significant exposure to other-race faces can block the development of own-race preference.

Or, as it's put in one of the few Rodgers-Hammerstein songs that I like:

Herman Cain vs Adolph Reed Jr.

Adolph Reed Jr. is one of my favorite thinkers on race and class, maybe because he validated my more ignorant opinions on modern anti-racism and Hurricane Katrina. (And if that's proof I suffer from confirmation bias, well, who doesn't?)

But I was disappointed with The Puzzle of Black Republicans - I'd love to know if the Times encouraged him to downplay the class-based analysis I expect from him, of if he was simply focusing on a very narrow subject, so he wrote something that seems more simplistic than it is.

I wanted more of this:
But this “first black” rhetoric tends to interpret African-American political successes — including that of President Obama — as part of a morality play that dramatizes “how far we have come.”
Instead, he focused on the Republicans, so the rightwing pundocracy is frothing over the charge that black Republicans are tokens.

None of them noticed Reed's "including that of President Obama", who Reed was criticizing long before Obama became Prez. In 1996, Reed wrote this about Obama:
In Chicago, for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices: one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable credentials and vacuous to repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program – the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle class reform in favoring form over substances.
Perhaps the most prominent complainer about Reed's Times piece is Herman Cain in The New York Times is a racist newspaper | CainTV.

I find myself in the very odd position of thinking this time, Cain is more accurate than Reed. Cain writes:
Since Professor Reed is also a black man, I wish him well in dealing with his obvious self-loathing. But he might learn a lot if he spent a little time moving in the circles I move in. He would meet lots of highly accomplished black men and women who have pursued their dreams in the capitalist system and have done exceedingly well. They vote Republican because they understand that free-market policies open up this same kind of opportunity for others.
The "self-loathing" is nonsense that may be Cain's dig at identity politics, but he is very right about one thing that Reed would agree with, I suspect: Race has nothing to do with the desire to be a capitalist or a king. For all the shortcomings of the Dems, who are as much a party of the rich as the Republicans, it's very true that the greediest of the rich know where their short-term self-interest lies. Rich black folks have every bit as much right to vote for Republicans as rich white folks do, and calling them race traitors for being true to their class is insulting and simplistic. If venting at rich folks makes you happy, insulting them is fine.

But if you want to understand power, don't be simplistic.

I would love to talk about this with Reed. My guess is that when he called Tim Scott a token, he wasn't doing it in the way identitarian Democrats would, to imply that black folks have an obligation to support Democrats. I think he was being more precise: Tim Scott is being used by cynical Republicans in the same way Obama is used by cynical Democrats. A political message sounds better in the 21st century coming from a dark-skinned speaker.

But when it's the same old message of giving more to the rich and less to the poor, having it promoted by a new spokesmodel shouldn't keep anyone from seeing that it's tokenism.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Poor whites in the USA

The redneck is white America's scapegoat. For centuries, rich whites promoted racism, first to separate slaves and indentured servants, then to separate workers. Jim Crow laws were not a demand of poor whites—they were promoted and enacted by the South's defeated rich who still wanted to justify the "peculiar institution" and thereby escape their responsibility for the nature of their wealth.

Jim Goad said in The Redneck Manifesto, "These days, we hardly ever see the redneck as anything but a caricature. A whole vein of human experience, of potential literature, is dismissed as a joke, much as America's popular notions of black culture were relegated to lawn jockeys and Sambo caricatures of a generation or two ago. The redneck is the only cardboard figure left standing in our ethnic shooting gallery. All other targets have been quietly removed in deference to unwritten laws of cultural sensitivity. Instead of Amos-n-Andy, we have Beavis and Butthead. The trailer park has become the media's cultural toilet, the only acceptable place to dump one's racist inclinations."

The Poorest Part of America:"Virtually all of the 20 poorest counties in America, in terms of wages, are on the eastern flank of the Rockies or on the western Great Plains... There are two unusual things about the deprivation in this region. First, it is largely white. The area does include several pockets of wretched Native American poverty, but in most areas the poor are as white as a prairie snowstorm. Second, most people do not think of themselves as poor."

Sherman Alexie alluded to that in Diary of a Part-time Indian. mentioning a place that's
...filled with the poorest Indians and poorer-than-poorest white kids. Yes, there is a place in the world where the white people are even poorer than you ever thought possible.
Dale Maharidge Interview: Covering The Economic Pain Of Real Americans: "Four-fifths of us who work for salaries or wages make less than $20 an hour. This is a poor country. We're a nation of the working poor, and it's something that people don't want to acknowledge."

Op-Ed Columnist - The Roots Of White Anxiety -
...which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.

This was particularly pronounced among the private colleges in the study. For minority applicants, the lower a family’s socioeconomic position, the more likely the student was to be admitted. For whites, though, it was the reverse. An upper-middle-class white applicant was three times more likely to be admitted than a lower-class white with similar qualifications.
White, Poor and Ignored? | Poverty in America |
If we assume that poor whites are more likely to populate these rural communities, statistics point to a disproportionately low amount of money being distributed to assist these areas. For example, The Ford Foundation, which purports to be active in rural development, made just $68 million in active grants and loans to rural areas in its fiscal 2006, out of $360 million overall in the U.S. Also, according to a study by the Foundation Center, North Dakota was awarded $3.3 million from foundations, South Dakota $3.2 million and Montana $10 million — compared with $3 billion for New York and $2 billion for California in 2005. While North Dakota may experience the lowest unemployment rates in the country, residents there still must deal with growing poverty and homelessness.

The poet Emma Lazarus once said, "Until we are all free, we are none of us free.
Possibly of interest: white trash names

Friday, December 21, 2012

black slaveowners, black millionaires, and the American myth

Listening to social justice warriors, you would think white = rich and black = poor, but the reality has always been more nuanced. Some black folks prospered from the earliest days of blacks in North America: In the 17th century, Anthony Johnson was the first black slaveowner; in the 19th, William Leidesdorff was the first black millionaire, and in the 20th, Madam C. J. Walker was the first female black millionaire.

transientandpermanent mentioned:
We discussed ownership of slaves by African-Americans. I dug up an old, but quite good, citation for you. Schwarz, Philip J. "Emancipators, Protectors, and Anomalies: Free Black Slaveowners in Virginia." The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 95, No. 3 (Jul., 1987), pp. 317-338.

I used to assume that knowledge of black ownership of slaves was not well-known because it was suppressed by politically correct and African-American interests. Nowadays, I'm not so sure. Much of the true pioneering work in this area has in fact been carried out by African-American scholars. So I think perhaps a more plausible explanation is that this history is not well-known at least in part because it was researched by African-American historians and concerns African-American history. If it had been done by whites and involved more whites, I think it would be better known, both inside and outside the academy. Just a theory, it's hard to prove or refute, of course.
I think the theory is sound, and I'll offer two additions:

1. Ivy League historians get the most attention in the US.

2. The Great Capitalist Myth has the sins of our history coming from racism and sexism, and there's much symbolic truth in the idea that US slavery consisted of white people enslaving black people. To people today who accept the mythic history, seeking a nuanced understanding of power in the US can seem like attempting to deny that truth.

I couldn't find a free copy of "Emancipators, Protectors, and Anomalies: Free Black Slaveowners in Virginia" on the web, but googling it brought up Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences: Unspoken Reality: "Black Slaveholders Prior to the Civil War" by Yuliya Tikhomirova and Lucia Desir. It's filled with information that goes against the American Myth:
Koger (1995) argues that a great many freemen became slave masters themselves for the same reason as whites, to make use of slave labor for the sake of profits. He writes, "by and large, Negro slave owners were darker copies of their white counterparts." His research led him to conclude, "clearly the dominant pattern of the commercial use of slaves recorded in the documents indicates that black slaveholding was primarily an institution based on the exploitation of slaves rather than a benevolent system centered upon kinship or humanitarianism" (p. 101).

...Scholars including Woodson, point out that up to the 1860's, having economic interests in common with the white slaveholders, black owners enjoyed the same social standing: attended the same churches, same private schools, and places of amusement. They frequently lived on the same streets as white families.

....Despite changes in the law, blacks continued to hold slaves through the Civil War. Koger (1995) refers to the fact that "in 1860, some 3,000 blacks owned nearly 20,000 black slaves [in the southern states]. In South Carolina alone, more than 10,000 blacks were owned by black slaveholders."

...According to Salzman, Smith, & West (1996, p. 603), "eight of the wealthiest antebellum black entrepreneurs were slaveholders from Louisiana who owned large cotton and sugar plantations." The trajectory of Marie Metoyer, also known as Coincoin, from daughter of African-born slaves to wealthy slave owner is a case in point. After being granted freedom from her white master, she established an independent plantation in Louisiana, expanding her economic assets by purchasing slaves and additional acreage. Her offspring expanded on her holdings, making them the largest African-American slaveholding family in American history with holdings of 20,000 acres of land and 500 slaves. The widow C. Richards and her son P. C. Richards owned 152 slaves and a large sugar cane plantation. Another black slave magnate with over 100 slaves was Antoine Dubuclet, a sugar planter whose estate was valued at $264,000, when the mean wealth of southern white men for that year was $3,978 (Grooms, 1997).
Some black folks prospered from the earliest days of blacks in North America: Anthony Johnson was the first black slaveowner, William Leidesdorff was the first black millionaire, and Madam C. J. Walker was the first female black millionaire.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

whiteness and poor whites in the 19th history

from old posts:

In some times and places, "white" just meant "American." From The great Arizona orphan abduction by Linda Gordon:
James Young, a black man at the Contention mine in nearby Tombstone, remarked "Si White and I were the first white men in Tombstone after Gird and Schieffelin."
• race and class for the Victorians

From a review of David Cannadine's Ornamentalism: how the British saw their empireWhy the Victorians were colour blind. In the 19th century, race mattered far less than social distinction: a West African tribal chief was unquestionably superior to an East End costermonger. By Kenan Malik:
Lady Gordon, the wife of Sir Arthur Hamilton-Gordon, the governor of Fiji from 1875 to 1880, thought the native high-ranking Fijians "such an undoubted aristocracy". She wrote: "Their manners are so perfectly easy and well bred . . . Nurse can't understand it at all, she looks down on them as an inferior race. I don't like to tell her that these ladies are my equals, which she is not!"
A LiveJournal discussion, race and class in Victorian England, has some useful links—and was refreshing after encountering the obliviousness to class that's exhibited too often in discussions of race.

The First Black Britons is a bit simplistic when it addresses class issues--"white" servants were also inferiors whose purpose could be primarily decorative--but it's got great snapshots of blacks in Britain, and includes this:
The black and white poor of this period were friends, not rivals. So much so, in fact, that Sir John Fielding, a magistrate and brother of the novelist Henry Fielding, complained that when black domestic servants ran away and, as they often did, found '... the Mob on their side, it makes it not only difficult but dangerous to the Proprietor of these Slaves to recover the Possession of them, when once they are sported away'.
Also of interest: Class, Gender, and Race: Chinese Servants in the North American West

• Frederick Douglass on poor whites
The impression which I had received respecting the character and condition of the people of the north, I found to be singularly erroneous. I had very strangely supposed, while in slavery, that few of the comforts, and scarcely any of the luxuries, of life were enjoyed at the north, compared with what were enjoyed by the slaveholders of the south. I probably came to this conclusion from the fact that northern people owned no slaves. I supposed that they were about upon a level with the non-slaveholding population of the south. I knew they were exceedingly poor, and I had been accustomed to regard their poverty as the necessary consequence of their being non-slaveholders. I had somehow imbibed the opinion that, in the absence of slaves, there could be no wealth, and very little refinement.
• class war in the Confederacy

from Heather Gray: A New Perspective on the Confederacy
The South realized with the election that it was not going to have its way with the Republican Party or with the northern Democrats. Karl Marx, as ever the profound analyst, wrote in the German “Die Presse” in 1861, “When the Democrats of the North declined to go on playing the part of the poor whites of the South” the Southern elite took their sword from the scabbard (Marx,1861).

The southern elite also faced a growing poor white population that was becoming harder to control. Poor white voters were increasing and they were making more demands through their franchise. Some have inferred, including Williams, that one reason the South went to war was because the elite were more concerned about poor whites than anything else. “The poor hate the rich” was the cry from South Carolina planter James Henry Hammond, who went on to say that the poor make war on the rich “especially with universal suffrage” (Williams, 2008). The elite began to explore ways to control the vote through class-based restrictions on white suffrage. Placing this “class” antagonism and passion of poor whites into a war was certainly one way to control them and diffuse the anger.
• white trash, and the problem with one of Ta-Nehisi Coates' favorite quotes

Coates is fond of quoting Senator John C. Calhoun, who said 1848:
With us the two great divisions of society are not rich and poor, but white and black; and all the former, the poor as well as the rich, belong to the upper class, and are respected and treated as equals.
I left this note at Coates' blog:
The Calhoun quote is great, but remember that it was said by a rich man. Even slaves spoke dismissively of "white trash" who were never "respected and treated as equals" by rich whites.
From White trash:
The term white trash first came into common use in the 1830s as a pejorative used by house slaves against poor whites. In 1833 Fanny Kemble, an English actress visiting Georgia, noted in her journal: "The slaves themselves entertain the very highest contempt for white servants, whom they designate as 'poor white trash'".[4][5]In 1854, Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote the chapter "Poor White Trash" in her book A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin. Stowe tells the reader that slavery not only produces "degraded, miserable slaves", but also poor whites who are even more degraded and miserable. The plantation system forced those whites to struggle for subsistence. Beyond economic factors, Stowe traces this class to the shortage of schools and churches in their community, and says that both blacks and whites in the area look down on these "poor white trash".[6]By 1855 the term had passed into common usage by upper class whites, and was common usage among all Southerners, regardless of race, throughout the rest of the 19th century.[7

Tim Ferriss: 7 Great Principles for Dealing with Haters

Tim Ferriss: 7 Great Principles for Dealing with Haters

it is always the season to forgive

There are petty reasons to forgive people—if you want to annoy your enemies or look like you're better than them, forgive them first and unconditionally.

There are selfish reasons—whether hating people is bad for your soul depends on your faith, but medical science says stress and anger will shorten your life.

There are practical reasons—nursing a hatred distracts you from more important things.

And there are wonderful reasons—forgiveness opens the possibility of a better world for everyone.

There are no bad reasons, so long as you know what forgiveness entails. It can't have conditions—that's a truce, not peace.

It may be the hardest task anyone can take on—every war proves that. But all great teachers know its importance.

The Gospel of Luke says, "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."

The Talmud says, "Who takes vengeance or bears a grudge acts like one who, having cut one hand while handling a knife, avenges himself by stabbing the other hand."

The Qur'an says believers are people who "when they are angry they forgive."

Real Live Preacher on "Forgiveness":
Forgiveness does not always lead to a healed relationship. Some people are not capable of love, and it might be wise to let them go along with your anger. Wish them well, and let them go their way.

Whatever happens, forgiveness is good food for your soul.
Sufi teacher Hazrat Inayat Khan said, "The lover of goodness loves every little sign of goodness. He overlooks the faults and fills up the gaps by pouring out love and supplying that which is lacking. This is real nobility of soul. Religion, prayer, and worship, are all intended to ennoble the soul, not to make it narrow, sectarian or bigoted. One cannot arrive at true nobility of spirit if one is not prepared to forgive the imperfections of human nature. For all men, whether worthy or unworthy, require forgiveness, and only in this way can one rise above the lack of harmony and beauty, until at last one arrives at the stage when one begins to reflect all that one has collected."

The Sikhs' Adi Granth may say it best: "Where there is forgiveness, there is God Himself."

Maggie and Suzzy Roche - "Anyway":

"Bring em all in: - the Waterboys:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

mobbing and Social Justice Warriors, a linkfest

When I wrote "the Social Justice Warrior cult", I left out one trait of cult belief systems from The Culture of Cults:
Psychologically damaging - when established members leave or are expelled, they may develop a particular kind of cult-induced mental disorder, marked by anxiety and difficulty in making decisions. The disorder exhibits similarities to (but is not identical to) post-traumatic stress disorder, and certain types of adjustment disorders. [ICD 10, F60.6, F66.1, etc.]
After reading the journals of several writers on the RaceFailers' "shit lists" and thinking about my own depression then, I realized it was relevant. Reading about cults and cliques led me to Mobbing.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Academic Mobbing: Is Gender a Factor? - Women in Higher Education:
What exactly is mobbing? According to authors Noa Davenport, Ruth Schwartz and Gail Elliott in Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the American Workplace (Civil Society Publishing, 2004):
...Through innuendo, rumors, and public discrediting, a hostile environment is created in which one individual gathers others to willingly, or unwillingly, participate in continuous malevolent actions to force a person out of the workplace.
These actions escalate into abusive and terrorizing behavior. The victim feels increasingly helpless when the organization does not put a stop to the behavior or may even plan or condone it.
As a result, the individual experiences increasing distress, illness, and social misery…Resignation, termination, or early retirement—the negotiated voluntary or involuntary expulsion from the workplace—follows. For the victim, death—through illness or suicide—may be the final chapter in the mobbing story.
...At times mobbing is done as a bully revels in animosity, gaining pleasure from the excitement that it creates, giving the bully what Westhues (2002) calls “the euphoria of collective attack”.
...the target may find that he/she is less productive, creative, and self questioning. Mobbing can leave the target’s life in turmoil (Glass, 1999), feeling embarrassed, frustrated and untrusting. Symptoms may include crying, sleep difficulties, lack of concentration, high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, excessive weight loss or gain, depression, alcohol or drug abuse, avoidance of the workplace, and/or uncharacteristic fearfulness (Namie & Namie, 2000; Davenport, Schwartz and Elliot, 1999). For some the degree of symptoms may become severe and include severe depression, panic attacks, heart attack, other severe illnesses, accidents, suicide attempts, violence directed at third parties and symptoms of PTSD (Namie & Namie, 2000; Davenport, Schwartz and Elliot, 1999). These symptoms may lead the target to feel who they are as a person is being stripped away.
...According to Leymann (n.d.) roughly ten to twenty percent of those mobbed in his study seemed to contract a serious illnesses or committed suicide.
Changes take place in relationships inside and outside of work. When the target fails to “bounce back” from the impact of being mobbed, family and friends may begin to abandon the target (Namie & Namie, 2000). According to Westhues (2002) “Not infrequently, mobbing spelled the end of the target’s career, marriage, health, and livelihood.”
From Workplace Mobbing, a Metafilter post, I especially recommend Mobbing and the Virginia Tech Massacre. It's easy to think the writer's taking the outsider's side too much, so I'll note this, from his conclusion: "This does not mean trying to excuse Cho's inexcusable crimes. Nor does it mean trying to shift blame and scapegoat somebody else. It means trying to get at the truth of what happened: empirical identification of the sequence of events, what led to what. Sound scientific explanation honors those who wrongly and unnecessarily lost their lives or suffered injury at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007, and gives promise of preventing repetition of the tragedy."

Yankton Press & Dakotan > Mobbing Like A ‘Rape Of The Spirit’:
“Mobbing is like a rape of the spirit. It destroys a person from the inside,” Elliot said. “Before I found out about this, I used to wonder why someone would go into a work environment and spray the whole area with bullets. Why do people go postal? This is one reason why. You know who your friends are not, but you don’t know who your friends are. Everybody is suspect. These people become so paranoid. They can suffer extreme anxiety disorders and also, in extreme cases, post-traumatic stress disorder.”

It’s easy for people to become caught up in mobbing an individual, Elliot said. They want to belong and don’t want to become targets of abuse themselves. Elliot admitted that not only has she been the target of mobbing in the workplace, but she also engaged in the behavior herself on one occasion before she recognized that what she was doing was unacceptable and apologized.

“People think it’s funny, and they think it doesn’t have a lasting impact,” Elliot said. “Mobbers make fun of people behind their back. They spread rumors that are unkind. They get other people to gang up on someone. They humiliate someone and act like it is a joke. They withhold information the person needs to make decisions. They hold their targets to a different standard than they do everybody else. It’s engineered to confuse the target. It’s engineered to discredit.”
Bullies have harassed 14 percent of workers over past 6 months
The study shows that those aged over 45 are more likely to be the victims of such abuse.
'Mobbing' Can Damage More Than Careers, Professors Are Told at Conference -

The "Bitch" Evolved: Why Girls Are So Cruel to Each Other: Scientific American:
Findings from this study indicated a clear difference in aggressive responses between the genders, with women overwhelmingly compelled to retaliate by attacking the offender’s reputation, mostly through gossip. This gender effect panned out even after controlling for participants’ evaluation of the social appropriateness of such acts. In other words, in spite of the fact that the women realized malicious gossip wasn’t socially appropriate, this was nevertheless their preferred first point of attack. Men, on the other hand, were more evenly divided in their response, but failed to show the same preferential bias for acts of “informational warfare”...
Women Really Are More Socially Aggressive Than Men (With Apologies to ): Scientific American

When Digital Shaming Goes Too Far: Lessons From the Seattle Tip Stiffer - Media - GOOD

Bitter behavior is so common and deeply destructive that some psychiatrists are urging it be identified as a mental illness under the name post-traumatic embitterment disorder.
This makes sense to me. PTED isn't the only response to mobbing, of course, but it may be the most obvious one.

The problem with privilege-checking

The problem with privilege-checking:
Also implicit in this new conception of “privilege” is a simple idea: the more points you score on the privilege bingo card, the less weight your view carries. This has the catastrophic effect of turning debates about racism, sexism, transphobia, class and disability into a game of Top Trumps, but equally importantly, it ignores the long history of social progressives, from Karl Marx to Tony Benn, who hail from privileged backgrounds.

Monday, December 17, 2012

US mass shootings don't fit race-based explanations

Some thoughts on Newtown shooting | MattBruenig | Politics: "According to Mother Jones, over the last thirty years, 42 of the 62 mass shootings have been carried out by white men (only one has been committed by a woman). So white men are the shooters in 67.7% of the mass shootings. This is a sizable majority of them, but it is important to note that — according to 2011 census — non-Hispanic whites make up 63.9% of the population. And this percentage has been declining, meaning it was higher during most of the 30 year period in which these shootings happened. So whites do not appear to be accounting for a disproportionate number of the shootings. Men do, but violent crime is pretty much an exclusively male thing anyways. This presents at least some difficulty for race-based explanations."

Chief Justice Roberts on the First Amendment and noblesse oblige

"The First Amendment protects against the Government; it does not leave us at the mercy of noblesse oblige." —Chief Justice John Roberts of the US Supreme Court

John Ralston Saul on the weakening of democracy

"Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens."

You know what's problematic? Problematic!

I don't have a post to go with the title. I just realized I'd read one too many Warriors saying their favorite word, "problematic."

I think it means "I don't know what's bothering me, but it's your fault."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

when Spike Lee called Samuel L. Jackson a "house slave"

Tarantino's 'Django Unchained' Reignites Debate Over N-Word In Movies - The Hollywood Reporter:
In 1997, Spike Lee took issue with the heavy use of the term in Jackie Brown, which was Tarantino’s homage to the blaxploitation films, as well as in his earlier works. 
“I have a definitely problem with Quentin Tarantino’s excessive use of the N-Word. And let the record state that I never said that he cannot use that word - I’ve used that word in many of my films - but I think something is wrong with him,” the director, one of America’s pre-eminent black filmmakers, said in an interview. Lee also compared the angry response of Samuel L. Jackson -- Tarantino’s lead in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown -- to his comments as "the house slave defending the massa." Incidentally, in Django, that is exactly the role Jackson plays, as the conniving slave looking out for DiCaprio.
There's something hypocritical about objecting to "nigger" and then calling a black man who does not shy away from the word a "house slave." I wonder if Lee's apologized, or if Jackson just continues to think of him as a twit.

As for any artist's use of any word, if the people you're writing about would've said something, let them say it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

One reason I love Sitting Bull

When Sitting Bull was touring with Buffalo Bill’s wild west show and talking to a crowd of visitors that included ragged adults and barefoot children, he said, "I know why your government hates me. I am their enemy. But why do they hate you?"

Monday, December 10, 2012

amusing search keywords of the day: "who's worse sjws or freepers"

It's tough, but I have to go with SJWs. No one's ever going to confuse me with a Freeper, but SJWs make everyone who's the tiniest bit on the left look bad. There's a reason why the American people  identify as moderates, even though on most issues, they're politically to the left of the Democrats, Only SJWs want to look like SJWs.

Upton Sinclair on art and propaganda

"All art is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda; sometimes unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda." —Upton Sinclair

white = rich

the racism of social justice warriors: erasing the black middle class (2012)

I was listening to community radio this morning when a couple of older, and possibly white, guys began talking about who the police serve. One said it was the "over class" and when asked to define that, said it was white men.

Which social justice warriors would agree with. In their view of the world, white men have the power.

Now, you could argue that the fact the richest man in the world is brown is an exception, and so is the fact that the tenth and fifteenth richest people are female.

But where is the black middle class in this view of power? Where are the people who produced Condi Rice, Colin Powell, and Barack Obama?

In SJW terms, SJWs erase the black middle class.

ETA: Apologies for erasing the rest of their erasure, the erasing of prosperous Hispanics and Asians.

Pro-equality or anti-what? (2007)

From Colorblindness on the U.S. Supreme Court:
In my opinion, the most interesting aspect of Chopra's commentary was a turn of phrase in its ending:
Despite the overwhelming public support for school integration in both Seattle and Louisville, five powerful white males were enough to squash a society's better nature. A pall hangs over the court for what they did, to the English language as much as to fair play.
The five "powerful white males" in question? Chief Justice John Roberts, along with Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito Jr., Anthony Kennedy -- and Clarence Thomas.
The pro-choice and pro-life movements were wise enough to choose names of support rather than denial, because the problem of being anti-choice or anti-life was obvious. But most "anti" groups fell into a trap: If you call yourself an "anti", your name perpetuates the idea you oppose. That's especially true for anti-racists; "race" is a social construct that's only a few centuries old, yet those who choose to be antiracists validate the concept of race with their name.

The simple alternative to being any of the popular "antis" is to be pro-equality. It even implies being pro-peace: if you believe everyone is equal, who can you happily kill?

But being pro-equality means you believe in equality for everyone. Some anti-racists like the idea of having poor people to serve them. Whether it was a careful choice or a revealing typo, that's why Deepak Chopra called Clarence Thomas "white." As a rich liberal, Chopra is reluctant to talk about class, but as an antiracist who accepts the labels of race, he's comfortable saying that rich conservatives are "white."

A part of me likes this redefinition of race, where the colors have nothing to do with the hue of your skin and are simply markers of tribal allegiance: as a communist, my race is "red", and as a conservative capitalist, Thomas is "white," but what is Deepak Chopra? If the American dollar was still the most important measure of wealth, I would say he was "green," but greens are either ecologists or a party of socialists. It's better to reject the old labels of race than to redeploy them.

There's another reason some people prefer to be "anti" rather than "pro." Being "pro" implies work: if you're pro-peace, you must do something to show your support of peace. If you're pro-equality, you must do something to support everyone, no matter how different others may think they are.

"I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy." Thomas Paine

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Upton Sinclair's advice to socialists is still good

"The American People will take Socialism, but they won't take the label. I certainly proved it in the case of EPIC. Running on the Socialist ticket I got 60,000 votes, and running on the slogan to "End Poverty in California" I got 879,000. I think we simply have to recognize the fact that our enemies have succeeded in spreading the Big Lie. There is no use attacking it by a front attack, it is much better to out-flank them." —Letter to Norman Thomas (25 September 1951)

Race: Born with the USA

Check The Oxford English Dictionary to learn when people began seeing each other in racial terms, and the answer may surprise you: the oldest recorded example is from 1774. Oliver Goldsmith wrote in his History of the Earth and Animated Nature, “The second great variety in the human species seems to be that of the Tartar race.”

Goldsmith knew his readers would not be familiar with that new meaning of race. He went on to say, "To this race of men we must also refer the Chinese and the Japanese, however different they seem in their manners and ceremonies. It is the form of the body that we are now principally considering." (My italics.)

The word “race” comes from the Italian razza. In English before the 18th Century, “race” simply meant a group of related things—the race of women, the German race, the race of heroes, the race of tart wines, etc. Until then, skin color, hair color, and facial features only suggested tribal allegiance.

What truly mattered was language. The Greek word for outsider is barbarian, a person whose speech sounds like “bar bar” to speakers of Greek. In the story of the Tower of Babel, God divides humanity by creating different languages, not skin colors. In Galatians, Paul never mentions skin color when he explains how the traditional divisions of humanity—tribe, class, and gender—are irrelevant: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one.”

For centuries, slavery had nothing to do with race. In the 1600s, 80,000 to 130,000 Irish slaves were sent to America and the West Indies. The African slave trade began as a simple exercise in capitalism: Africans sold slaves to Europeans who transported them to North and South America. Regardless of the place of origin, slaves of all hues worked and lived together under equally barbaric conditions.

"Race" and racial prejudice required the sanction of science. The 18th Century was the Age of Enlightenment. The idea was growing that all people were equal. But if everyone was equal, who could be sold, and where would cheap labor come from?

Historian Eric Williams noted, "Slavery was not born of racism; rather, racism was the consequence of slavery." Europeans rationalized slavery with pseudo-science: inferior "races" clearly did not deserve the same treatment as superior ones.

This doesn’t mean people didn’t notice skin color, but color as a major tribal marker is almost as new as the idea of race. The first “white” people in North America appear in the historical record around 1680. Before then, people tended to describe themselves in terms of their nation: English, Mohican, French, Wampanoag, etc.

After the idea of race was accepted, slavery did not get worse—life for slaves in the race-obsessed plantations and mines of the Americas was much like life in the galleys, mines, and commercial farms of Rome. The tightly packed ships of the Middle Passage may be unique to the African trade, but capitalism, not racism, explains the Middle Passage: it was the most profitable way to ship human cargo. Humans have never needed race to excuse inhuman treatment of anyone identified as "other": see the massacre of nonviolent Cathars for one of uncountable examples.

But after the idea of race was accepted, life for people who were now "white" improved slightly. The colonies passed laws dictating better treatment for white servants than black slaves. The new idea of racial division allowed rich people who considered themselves enlightened to simultaneously treat poor people a bit better and keep slaves.

For racists and racialists, the ideas of tribe and race are hopelessly tangled, which leads to confusion in the case of people like Condoleeza Rice and Barack Obama, wealthy African Americans who have always acted in the interests of their social class, but who have been called race traitors by people who see the world through a racial filter.

For racists and anti-racists, the purpose of race is to exaggerate differences: A "black" and a "white" are opposites, even if the skin of the "black" is lighter than that of the "white." The distinction exists to divide us.

The truth about humanity has never changed. There are no scientific tests for race. Blood is blood, and bone is bone. Race is a con game. Don't play.

Schrödinger's Therapist: Interview with the Plusser

Schrödinger's Therapist: Interview with the Plusser

Saturday, December 8, 2012

oppression vs exploitation, and the liberal limit on "classism"

From When we say "class", what are we talking about? |
The resolution of problem of “classism” is essentially liberal. This isn’t necessarily a criticism. In the here and now, I don’t want gay people to be discriminated against. But I’m basically demanding that liberal democracy does what it says on the tin and treats everyone as equal, sovereign subjects. The same goes for racism, sexism, etc. The culmination of these politics is formal and informal equality as liberal citizens and on the labour market. This is perfectly possible within capitalism.
But when we understand “class” as describing a relationship with capital, the implications are very different. We’re talking about an exploited class, not an oppressed one. I.e. the class has surplus value extracted from it, it is not discriminated against. This cannot be resolved by granting the working class equality with capital. It must result from a resolution of the struggling interests of workers and capital through the expropriation of capital and the construction of a society based on human needs.
This difference has been correctly described as a politics of oppression as opposed to a politics of exploitation. The resolution of oppression is liberation, the resolution of exploitation is expropriation. Only one necessarily points beyond capital.
This is an extremely useful distinction for me, because it explains the well-paid people who are contented to be exploited—they don't feel oppressed. The worst that will happen to them is they'll be fired. Wise capitalists try to keep the obviously oppressed far away from the contentedly exploited, and when they can't, they make the contentedly exploited feel superior—they're house slaves, not field slaves, and they admire Master, and they know that if they get the chance, they'll become just like Master some day—see the long history of slaves in US history who became slavers after they won their freedom.

Friday, December 7, 2012

two experiments with free books

We made Shadow Unit #1 free at Smashwords and Amazon (and would've made it free at B&N if we could figure out a way). So far, that seems to have been the right choice. For example, in September, the month before #1 went free, we sold 16 copies of #9 at Amazon. In October, we sold 26. In November, we sold 59. It's too early to generalize, but it's promising.

To test Amazon's KDP program (which I really wish didn't call for a three month exclusive on any book in the program), I entered Dogland and made it free for a day this week. Last month at Amazon, it sold 4 copies; this month, it's already sold 11.

I'll do an update on the experiments in a month or so.

the wisdom of Charles Darwin

“Those communities which included the greatest number of the most sympathetic members would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.” —Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How Dare You Attempt to Otherize My Undead Horde

How Dare You Attempt to Otherize My Undead Horde

A Christmas grab bag

via Whirled of Kelly: Christmas is Coming

Dogland--free today for Kindle!

I don't know if Dogland is my best novel, but it's the one I'm proudest of. The ebook is free today at Amazon.

I put it in Amazon's KDP Select program as an experiment, so for three months, it's only available at Amazon. The rest of our books continue to be at Fine Bookstores Everywhere because I hate monopolies. But I also like making a living, so I'm testing KDP Select with this one book and rationalizing it as an experiment in short-term exclusivity, not long-term monopoly.

I will update y'all on how it goes.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Regarding Metafilter's "privilege-checking and call-out culture"

I'm no longer a Mefite, so I'm responding to privilege-checking and call-out culture here.

Msalt, I love this:
So much energy is spent parsing terminology, including redefining words with non-intuitive meaning that will inevitably confuse readers. (EG "patriarchy" does not mean rule by men, but most people use it that way. "the male gaze" does not mean men lewdly staring, it's from an impenetrable 1975 essay of psychoanalytic film theory, but it's used to mean men staring 85%+ of the time.)

So you either derail on the mistaken uses of these words, or talk past each other and spin your wheels. It's a cancer.
Artw, more love for your explanation of "livejournally stuff":
...eternal circles of privlege shaming, counter shaming and shaming for not shaming enough.
ShawnStruck, though I love the above, this comment of yours is the reason for this post:
The fact that Will Shetterly is being listed as a credible source in this post really undercuts its legitimacy. He has a history of harassment, mostly against Women of color as the link shows.
That "history of harassment" is SJWspeak. It means I disagree online with the fans of Critical Race Theory. You say my disagreements are mostly with women of color, yet your link is to a post at a white woman's site compiled by two white women, Coffeeandink and Marydell, and one woman of color, Sparkymonster.

Your comment is also a fine example of what SJW's call white-knighting. Do women of color need special consideration when discussing race and gender? I think not.

There's also a curious suggestion that you think all women of color have the same identitarian politics. You should read Rev. Thandeka.

Martin Wisse, I'm amused that you claim I have a vendetta against Coffeeandink and offer as evidence the post where she and her friends, to use SJW rhetoric, "stalked" me as part of their "vendetta". (I assume in SJWspeak, "vendetta" means "intellectual disagreement plus hissyfit".)

And it's both hilarious and sad that you cited Verb Noire—whose organizers took the money and ran—as a "success" of Racefail.

Karmakazee, I never argued that "pussy" isn't gendered. I only said I don't hear it as gendered, wondered if that was a regional thing, and linked to Wikipedia's article. I'm sure some people use it as a gendered insult. I hear the insult in the sense of cowardly—"'fraidy cat", not "womanly".

Sunday, December 2, 2012

the wisdom of Epicurus

“The wealth required by nature is limited and is easy to procure; but the wealth required by vain ideals extends to infinity.” — Epicurus, Principal Doctrines

Friday, November 30, 2012

"Why the Dzur Stabbed the Yendi in the Back" by Will Shetterly

Also at Medium: Why the Dzur Stabbed the Yendi in the Back, a Dragaera fanfic

This is a bit of fanfic inspired by the Vlad Taltos stories of Steve Brust. Or maybe by the Paarfi stories. —WS

Why the Dzur Stabbed the Yendi in the Back

by Will Shetterly

Once, so long ago that no one remembers their names, a Yendi and a Dzur went to war. The Yendi used seventeen strategies, each more clever than the one before, to deprive the Dzur of all her allies and resources. When the Yendi heard the Dzur had nothing left but her sword and her honor, he laughed in anticipation of her surrender or her death.

But he stopped laughing when a guard said a lone warrior was approaching the castle with a sword in her hands. The Yendi climbed the castle walls to see for himself. Before the front gate, the Dzur stood shouting, "Yendi! I've come for our final battle! One of us shall die in honorable combat!"

The captain of the guard said, "Shall I have our archers answer her?"

The Yendi nodded, then smiled and said, "Ah! Obviously she has a spell to deflect arrows, and her last allies are hidden in the woods to aid her if I come out to fight. Send half our soldiers by the back gate to scour the forest and thwart her plan."

"My lord, she's a Dzur."

"Yes, but she's no fool. Do as I say. Even if I'm wrong—" And here he laughed at the idea that a Yendi could be outwitted by a Dzur. "—a dozen warriors and a stout gate remain between us and the Dzur."

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Eric Hoffer explains social justice warriors

"A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business." -Eric Hoffer

"Danceland" by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly

This story will be available online sometime soon. Watch the skies!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Female Marine Officer vs. the One True Feminists, or Censoring Elizabeth Moon

When WisCon announced that Elizabeth Moon would be one of its two Guests of Honor for 2011's WisCon 35, she seemed a fine choice. As the blogger Army Sergeant noted in "In Defense of Elizabeth Moon":
Elizabeth Moon is a pretty extraordinary woman. She made the decision to join the Marine Corps as an officer during the Vietnam War, at a time many men were unwilling to. She is the child of a single parent, and an utterly self-made woman with multiple college degrees. She is also the mother of an autistic child and has done some pretty impressive advocating for disabled children. She writes some great Military Science Fiction books, with strong female characters-because she knows from experience that women can be a lot of pretty amazing things. Moon exemplifies in many ways what I think of as feminism-that any woman can and should have the ability to be whatever she wants to be, from serving her country to being a mother-tigress.
But in October of 2010, SF3, the educational non-profit group that runs WisCon, announced "SF3 has withdrawn the invitation to Elizabeth Moon to attend WisCon 35 as guest of honor."

1. What happened

Moon wrote a September 11 LiveJournal post titled "Citizenship" criticizing Muslims and opposing the Islamic center in Lower Manhattan which conservatives mislabeled the Ground Zero Mosque. This paragraph drew most criticism:
I can easily imagine how Muslims would react to my excusing the Crusades on the basis of Islamic aggression from 600 to 1000 C.E….(for instance, excusing the building of a church on the site of a mosque in Cordoba after the Reconquista by reminding them of the mosque built on the site of an important early Christian church in Antioch.) So I don’t give that lecture to the innocent Muslims I come in contact with. I would appreciate the same courtesy in return (and don’t get it.) The same with other points of Islam that I find appalling (especially as a free woman) and totally against those basic principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution…I feel that I personally (and many others) lean over backwards to put up with these things, to let Muslims believe stuff that unfits them for citizenship, on the grounds of their personal freedom.
I was among the first to criticize. I noted:
Freedom of religion should include the freedom to build a community center near a strip joint.

Seriously, blaming Islam for Al Qaeda is like blaming Christianity for the Ku Klux Klan or Judaism for the Stern Gang. If the site of the World Trade Center is now "sacred ground," it's sacred to every religion, because people of every religion died there. That's especially true for Islam: there was a mosque on the 17th floor of the WTC.

This is the nation created by Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. Have we stopped fighting for the freedom for everyone to worship as they choose?
She replied:
Nothing I wrote suggested that people should not worship as they choose (so long as their arm doesn't reach someone else's nose.)
I said:
I'm a big fan of the principle you mention in parentheses.

 But that's why I think they should build the cultural center there, and if they wanted to build a full-scale mosque, they should build that there. It's not even within sight of the WTC. No one's nose is affected
In a comment to someone else, I added:
If any religious group owns land anywhere in the USA, they should be free to build on it. Trying to limit their First Amendment right in any way is both bigotry and un-American.
I wanted to be precise, but I regret that now. Words like bigotry end discourse by making people hear only the insult, something I should've learned from the SJWs' example.

When Moon rejected my characterization, I said:
Here's why you sound like a bigot: you talk about Muslims in general wanting what only fundamentalist Muslims want, and then you are careful to say that only fundamentalist Christians want the same things. I'll add fundamentalist Jews, just to be thorough, like the ones who burn Bibles. 

That's something that few muslims do, because the Qur'an teaches respect for Judaism and Christianity. Alas, there's no similar explicit command to respect other religions in the Bible. 

Here's what I think many people like you fail to understand: people come to the US because they know and love the values of the US. When they get here, yes, some of them discover that there are Americans who will limit where they may build religious centers. But most Muslims, like most Christians and Jews, appreciate our national commitment to freedom. When they're frustrated, it's because they want more freedom, not less. 

Like the freedom to build a religious center wherever it's legal to build religious centers.
She replied:
Go build a church or synagogue in Mecca or Medina.

What's the Sharia laws where it concerns Dhimmi? Are they allowed to marry muslims? Are Muslim women allowed to marry Dhimmi men? Are you familiar with the term? What if you're not Dhimmi? What if you're a pagan? Or an Animist or an Atheist in an Islamic county with sharia as it's laws? What's your social status then?

Sharia as anything other than voluntary contract rules is anathema to the constitution of the United States and the guaranteed rights of the citizens of the United States.
I said:
Saudi Arabia, land of George Bush's buddies, is run by Wahhabbists, who in the eyes of many muslims (and me), have perverted Islam. They certainly don't understand the Qur'an's explicit statement, "There is no compunction in religion."

As for the rules about dhimmi and others, that depends on the state. For the record, I don't like state religions of any sort. Having states screws up perfectly good religions.

We agree on your last sentence.
If I was writing an essay about the people who fear Islam, I would quote more of our discussion, and recommend "Muslims Condemn Terrorist Attacks" and point out this bit from "Muslim Victims of 9/11 Attack": "Among the many victims of 9/11 were several dozen innocent Muslims, ranging in age from their late 60s to a couple’s unborn child. Six of these victims were Muslim women, including one who was 7 months pregnant. Many were stockbrokers or restaurant workers, earning a living to care for their families. There were converts and immigrants, hailing from over a dozen different countries and the U.S. There were heroes: a NYPD cadet and a Marriott hotel worker, who sacrificed their lives attempting to rescue others. The Muslim victims were parents to over 30 children, who were left orphaned without one or both of their parents."

But my subject isn't Moon's misunderstanding of Islam. Being human means having prejudices. Her statement of hers did not limit anyone's freedom.

My subject is the SJW response to her words.

Which was all about limiting freedom.

2. A sad day in the commons: on the suppression of error at NPR and WisCon

Moon let the comments run for several days, then shut them down when the flames wouldn't die on their own. The firestorm blazed through the Warriorverse in usual ways. People called for boycotting Moon's books, though not a word in them had changed since she wrote "Citizenship." People vowed they would not attend WisCon if Moon was one of its guests, even though no one could imagine Nisi Shawl, the other Guest of Honor, having any prejudice against Muslims—if I thought like a social justice warrior, I would cite this as proof of sjw racism: they concentrated on the white guest and ignored the black one.

For a month, WisCon held private discussions with Moon about the issue.

Then, on October 21, National Public Radio fired Juan Williams after he mentioned on the air that he got nervous when he was on airplanes with people dressed like muslims, and WisCon withdrew its invitation to Elizabeth Moon.

That day, I wrote: I disagree vehemently with Islamophobes. But the greater wrong has been done by those who are punishing them for saying what they believe. I'm rarely a binarian, but on this, I'm comfortable with a simple division: There are those who support free speech and those who silence others.

Frederick Douglass said, "To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker."

John Stuart Mill said, "The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error."

I'll add this to Mill's point: when you suppress speech, the issue changes from their ideas to your suppression.

The danger to free speech comes whenever people forget that ends and means are the same. That happens on the left and the right:

Frank Hague said, "We hear about constitutional rights, free speech and the free press. Every time I hear those words I say to myself, That man is a Red, that man is a Communist. You never heard a real American talk in that manner."

Vladimir Lenin said, "When one makes a Revolution, one cannot mark time; one must always go forward -- or go back. He who now talks about the freedom of the press goes backward, and halts our headlong course towards Socialism."

Americans have a troubled relationship with free speech. Alexis De Tocqueville noted, "In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them."

At NPR and WisCon, the majority raised its barriers.

Capitalists talk about the "marketplace of ideas" because they think everything is for sale. I don't think speech should be for sale, so when I'm feeling pretentious, I talk about the agora of ideas, but really, we're just talking about the intellectual commons, the realm of ideas that belongs to all of us. If we can't agree to disagree, we can never hope to coexist. We can only hope to conquer, and I want no part of a world where ideas, no matter how much I love them, are imposed by force.

3. uninviting a speaker is censorship: Elizabeth Moon, Wiscon, ACLU, and more

The supporters of uninviting Elizabeth Moon from Wiscon claimed it's not censorship. In "Marginalizing vs. Silencing -- My hopefully final thoughts on the WisCon/Moon fiasco", Saladin Ahmed said "It's not censorship or silencing - it's marginalizing." K. Tempest Bradford asked in You People Are Out Of Your Goddamned Minds, "You people do not even understand what censorship means, do you?"

Wondering if they could have a point, I googled. Random House says a censor is "any person who supervises the manners or morality of others." Wikipedia is at the intersection of authority and usage; it says, "Censorship is the suppression of speech or other communication which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or inconvenient to the general body of people as determined by a government, media outlet, or other controlling body."

Looking for usage brought me to "Clark University President John Basset Cancels Norman G. Finkelstein", which includes a response from the ACLU. Some bits:
...the cancellation of his speech violates the basic principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom which are so fundamental to an institute of higher learning. The existence of an opportunity to speak at another time or in another location does not remedy the wrong of censorship.

...Nor may complaints from those disturbed by Finkelstein’s writings about the post-Holocaust “industry” justify a decision to prevent the lecture from taking place. Indeed, even if demonstrators came to protest against Finkelstein’s views, the obligation of a university is to protect the spaeker’s right to be heard and prevent disruption of the speech by others. By censoring speech because of complaints about offensiveness or the controversial nature of the speaker, the university has essentially allowed what the courts call a “heckler’s veto” over what speech can be heard.
The writer quotes the president of Tufts University, which, like Clark, is a private school:
While Tufts is a private institution and not technically bound by First Amendment guarantees, it is my intention to govern as President as if we were. To put it another way, I believe that students, faculty, and staff should enjoy the same rights to freedom of expression at Tufts as they would if they attended or worked at a public university….During the McCarthy era, a number of university presidents in the United States failed to defend the principle of expression. Students, faculty, and stuff paid for this equivocation as the government sought to purge University campuses of those expressing particularly unpopular opinions. We must be vigilant in defending individual liberties even if it means that from time to time we must tolerate speech that violates our standards of civility and respect.
The Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences' free speech guidelines include this:
Because no other community defines itself so much in terms of knowledge, few others place such a high priority on freedom of speech. As a community, we take certain risks by assigning such a high priority to free speech. We assume that the long-term benefits to our community will outweigh the short-term unpleasnt effects of sometimes-noxious views. Because we a community united by a commitment to rational processes, we do not permit censorship of noxious ideas. We are commited to maintaining a climate in which reason and speech provide the correct response to a disagreeable idea.
Other examples of "censorship" used to describe canceling speakers included "NCAC Protests Cancellation of Ellen Hopkins Appearance at Teen Lit Fest in Texas":
After Hopkins was disinvited to Teen Lit Fest 2011, five other authors dropped out in protest rather than participate in an event that had censored another author. Sadly for the students of the area, the program has been cancelled. Some might blame the authors who withdrew, but we think full responsibility rests on the school officials who made the decision to censor Hopkins.
I was amused by this comment at "Censors and Heroes - The Texas Observer""
Personally, I’m convinced that un-inviting Hopkins was indeed a form of censorship. You might disagree. However, I think we can all agree that it was very bad manners, and would never be tolerated in the Junior League.
"Library Censorship Overturned" tells of the Greenwich Library canceling a presentation by Allison Weir, but this time, the free speech supporters won.

It's especially sad when people who want to support Muslims support censorship, the tactic noted in "Islamization Watch: London university bars Islamist Hizb ut-Tahrir speaker to debate Sharia law in the modern world".

4. when scifi writers could disagree

At "Politcal Correctness and the Death of Science Fiction Fandom", Stephanie S. shared a quote by Isaac Asimov:
...Fears were expressed at the time that [two competing statements written on the Vietnam War and signed by opposing blocks of science fiction authors] would create storms and divisions among science fiction writers and would break up our camaraderie in a tempest of controversy. Well, if the statements have done so, I haven't noticed it. Our mutual identification as fellow science fiction writers persists above and beyond lesser divisions.

To be specific, Poul [Anderson] knows that I am a "fuzzy-minded pinko" and I know that he is a "narrow-minded hardhat" (not that either of us would ever use such terms), but we love each other anyway, and our relations with each other in these last couple of years have not suffered at all.
I disagree with Stephanie's politics, but I share her belief that we should be free to disagree. Shortly before he was killed, Malcolm X said: dearest friends have come to include all kinds -- some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists -- some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!
May we all be able to disagree and still be friends.

5. even bigots must be free to speak

This is usually credited to Martin Niemöller:
They came first for the communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
I'm a socialist, which explains why free speech matters so much to me. If capitalists don't respect free speech, I'm silenced.

But that quote isn't addressed to socialists. It's addressed to people who oppose them. A modern equivalent for Critical Race Theorists would start, "They came first for the bigots, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a bigot."

Censors love a foothold, so they start with the things that the majority opposes, then use what they've gained to censor more. That's why I agree with the ACLU: lovers of free speech must speak up for a bigot's right to speak.

I saw that quote being used by a supporter of Wiscon's decision. The notion that Niemöller believed in silencing bad people before their ideas could spread just croggled me.

Yes, many notions croggle me.

6. Wiscon and Elizabeth Moon: What Happened and What Can We Learn from it?

In 2011, Armadillocon addressed the issue in a panel. The lineup: Emma Bull, Stina Leicht, Scott Lynch, Lawrence Person, Cat Rambo, Lee Thomas.

Lee Thomas seemed to be most sympathetic to WisCon's decision. He asked a question that did not get answered: how far may an invited guest's statements go before a con should uninvite a guest?

Scott Lynch's position was similar. He proposed, "My con, my rules"—if Wiscon wanted to uninvite a guest, that was their right.

Stina Leicht, Cat Rambo, and Emma all objected to what Moon had said about Muslims, but were also troubled by WisCon's decision not to honor its invitation of a guest. Emma noted that Wiscon had changed its definition of feminism in order to justify its actions; feminism does not have a political orientation, and though she's a socialist, she recognizes that when conservative women do things like serving on the Supreme Court, they are making progress as feminists that help women who don't share their politics.

Lawrence Person proposed that Moon's comments on Muslims had been misinterpreted, that she had not been saying that Muslims should be treated badly, but that they should be prepared to face discrimination because every immigrant group has faced discrimination.

Audience reactions ranged from full support for WisCon to an emphatic declaration that institutions should never censor invited speakers.

In discussion after the panel, someone with great familiarity of conventions and contracts said that Wiscon was very lucky when Ms. Moon accepted their decision. By announcing her as their GoH, they established a contract. When they withdrew the offer, they put themselves in the position of being in breach of contract.

7. Elizabeth Moon update

There's a happy ending for Elizabeth Moon: She's still making the bestseller lists.